By Brian Greenwald, Nonprofit Superfan at Generate_Impact – a technology services company focused solely on celebrating and serving humanitarian, social impact and sustainability organizations and causes.
Everywhere you look, there’s news that a recession is about to drop, or in fact is already here. Real or imagined, one thing is for certain – even the thought of it is putting a strain on donors.
If you are a fundraising professional, the big questions are:
How much will it hurt?
What should we do about it?
It’s natural to look for ways to cut back during lean times. That instinct, while logical on the surface – may also be a grave mistake for most fundraisers.
Research backs that up. Matthew Dubins, founder of Donor Science Consulting, performed an exhaustive study of the impact of the Great Recession of 2008 on Canadian nonprofits and came to the following conclusion:
“…during a recession, it is extremely important to continue putting in as much time, energy, and staff resources into fundraising as possible given your circumstances. If not, please expect not to last much longer as a non-profit.”
If you take Matthew’s excellent advice, a great option is to invest in nonprofit system integration. This is especially true in times of scarcity. You might be wondering, however, what is a system integration?
An integration is a data-sharing connection between tools through APIs, middleware products such as Zapier, or native add-ons many systems provide. For example, if you use Eventbrite, Mailchimp, Shopify or PayPal, you can pass valuable participant data back and forth with your CRM (such as EveryAction or HubSpot).
This synchronizes data across your operation, automates process, improves analysis and reporting, and saves time and money.
Here are 3 reasons nonprofit system integration can amplify your fundraising efforts in good AND bad times. Integrations can:
1. Supercharge your ability to leverage data
Your organization collects a lot of data (or should). When your data is siloed across your CRM, Marketing, CMS, AMS, volunteer, program, event management, and other tools, it can be a huge challenge to gain a complete picture of your donors (without a massive level of manual effort – see reason #2).
Who people are and how they engage with your nonprofit is critical information when crafting and running powerful fundraising campaigns that deliver results. Nonprofit system integrations help solve that by creating a 360-degree view of your audience through shareable and actionable insights.
Integrated data deeply informs messaging and campaigns, grant submissions, board, and regulatory reporting, and more. Creating a single source of truth with clean, accurate and meaningful data will deliver better results from the same amount of effort.
2. Maximize your team’s time and energy
Ask any member of your team if they enjoy manually wrangling data from system to system through data entry, exports and imports, spreadsheets, and worse. Most likely the answer will be “groan”.
It’s exhausting, inefficient, and certainly not fun work. They joined you for the mission, not to spend their day performing tasks technology can do for them in the blink of an eye. Yet many organizations resist investing in modern, integrated systems that automate and streamline data management and day to day operations.
Consider (or better yet measure) how much time your team loses on arduous manual tasks, and what it would mean to redirect that time and energy to more meaningful work. The positive impact could be huge on your results and team morale. Investing in system integration will unleash your people and help them fund your mission
3. Extend the life and value of your current tools
You have invested a lot in your tech, so getting the most out of it is essential over its lifespan. It’s an investment that requires a significant return, by supercharging your data, maximizing your people, and above all, squeezing every donation out of your current tools before migrating to something new.
Whether old or new, integrating what you have can deliver key benefits now, and for less. A native, middleware or custom integration project often costs less, takes less time, and results in less disruption than rip and replace. And when it’s time to make a change, your optimized system will give you a great blueprint for how you need your new system be configured to work for you.
A tech agnostic, mission-focused technology services partner can help you achieve that, ensuring that your nonprofit tech sets you up for success.
As you navigate these tricky times, consider what integrating your nonprofit systems can do for you, your people, and your mission. Even when things are tough, taking that step will help you weather the storm and come out stronger on the other side.